Does Lonza Group Ltd (VTX:LONN) Have A Good P/E Ratio?

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This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how Lonza Group Ltd’s (VTX:LONN) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. Lonza Group has a P/E ratio of 32.5, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 3.1%.

See our latest analysis for Lonza Group

How Do I Calculate Lonza Group’s Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Price per Share ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for Lonza Group:

P/E of 32.5 = CHF286.1 ÷ CHF8.8 (Based on the year to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That isn’t a good or a bad thing on its own, but a high P/E means that buyers have a higher opinion of the business’s prospects, relative to stocks with a lower P/E.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. Then, a lower P/E should attract more buyers, pushing the share price up.

Lonza Group shrunk earnings per share by 18% over the last year. But over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have increased by 27%.

How Does Lonza Group’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. If you look at the image below, you can see Lonza Group has a lower P/E than the average (39.8) in the life sciences industry classification.

SWX:LONN Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 21st 2019
SWX:LONN Price Estimation Relative to Market, February 21st 2019

Its relatively low P/E ratio indicates that Lonza Group shareholders think it will struggle to do as well as other companies in its industry classification. Since the market seems unimpressed with Lonza Group, it’s quite possible it could surprise on the upside. It is arguably worth checking if insiders are buying shares, because that might imply they believe the stock is undervalued.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

The ‘Price’ in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. Hypothetically, a company could reduce its future P/E ratio by spending its cash (or taking on debt) to achieve higher earnings.

Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.

Lonza Group’s Balance Sheet

Lonza Group’s net debt is 17% of its market cap. This could bring some additional risk, and reduce the number of investment options for management; worth remembering if you compare its P/E to businesses without debt.

The Verdict On Lonza Group’s P/E Ratio

Lonza Group trades on a P/E ratio of 32.5, which is above the CH market average of 18.1. With some debt but no EPS growth last year, the market has high expectations of future profits.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. As value investor Benjamin Graham famously said, ‘In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.’ So this free visualization of the analyst consensus on future earnings could help you make the right decision about whether to buy, sell, or hold.

Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Lonza Group. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.